Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor saves Branislav Ivanovic's header at the second attempt as Hawk-Eye was used for the first time in the Premier League yesterday at Stamford Bridge. The goal-line technology showed the whole of the ball did not cross the line. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor saves Branislav Ivanovic's header at the second attempt as Hawk-Eye was used for the first time in the Premier League yesterday at Stamford Bridge. The goal-line technology showed the whole of the ball did not cross the line. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

Premier League: Chelsea give Jose Mourinho perfect welcome back gift

Goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard against Hull City make it a winning return to Stamford Bridge for the Portuguese manager, writes Jonathan Wilson.

LONDON // It was all very convivial at Stamford Bridge perhaps too much so.

Chelsea were not really tested by a Hull City side who seemed overawed and showed virtually no fight until the second half, while the Tigers would probably be relieved to escape with a defeat that ended up being nowhere as embarrassing as it appeared it might be after an opening half-hour that Chelsea dominated.

Whether they found their feet or Chelsea eased off was difficult to say, but what was clear was that this was a very gentle start for Jose Mourinho's second stint at Stamford Bridge.

The contrasting mood could hardly have been more different to the first game of the last new manager at Stamford Bridge. Where Rafa Benitez emerged to boos and banners demanding his instant expulsion, Mourinho entered the stadium to an extraordinarily sentimental reception.

He had addressed his programme notes to his "Blues brothers" and blew kisses to all corners. This time the banners were universally positive: "Simply the Best", "One of us", "We love Jose", "Welcome Home", "We are the Happy Ones".

"It was fantastic," said Mourinho, "something you don't forget, something that made me think I made the right move coming back. I need them to support my team and sing my players' names.

"I need them to push Chelsea all the way. Enough Mourinho and come on Chelsea. I know they love and that's one of the reasons I said 'yes' to Mr Abramovich."

The whole atmosphere was one of togetherness: Owner Roman Abramovich addressed fans directly for the first time in his 10 years as owner, writing a 29-word message in the programme to thank them for their support, while the stadium announcer urged the crowd to greet "Your Chelsea" onto the pitch as though Benitez's reign, successful though it ultimately proved, were an unpleasant aberration best forgotten.

Mourinho could hardly have hoped for more compliant opponents. The Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor seemed to have added his own welcome gift after five minutes, conceding a penalty by cuffing Fernando Torres after a curious sally from his goal. McGregor, though, on his Hull debut, quickly retracted his generosity, saving Frank Lampard's penalty. It was a temporary respite.

Chelsea, passing and moving deftly, with Kevin De Bruyne excelling in the centre of the midfield line of three, cut Hull apart again and again. McGregor had already made one block from Eden Hazard when Oscar rounded off a superb team goal, running on to De Bruyne's through-ball to poke the ball under the goalkeeper after 13 minutes. Only McGregor kept the score down, but he was at fault as Lampard added the second with a dipping free kick from 35 yards.

Thereafter, though, it was all anticlimactic, with both teams seemingly content with the score line.

"The first 25-30 minutes, it was just unstoppable, the intensity, the ground the way it was," said Steve Bruce, the Hull manager. "Not many teams could live with that."


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Manager Matt Williams benching star Bryce Harper, above, may have sent the wrong message to the rest of the Washington Nationals. Mike Ehrmann / AFP

Benching Harper sends Williams’s right message the wrong way

Matt Williams, the Washington Nationals manager, made the biggest move of his 18-game tenure on Saturday, benching rising star Bryce Harper for his “lack of hustle”.

 Players such as George Springer are a sign that things are starting to swing in the Houston Astros' favour. But more help is needed. Scott Halleran / AFP

Houston Astros are still earth-bound but help is on the way

As harbingers of a new era go, the Houston Astros could have done worse than misspelling their new phenom’s name on his major-league debut.

 Luis Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 Premier League goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1987. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Sterling and Suarez inpire Liverpool to win over Norwich City

The win takes the Premier League table-toppers to 80 points from 35 games.

 Arsenal's Lukas Podolski celebrates his second goal during the Premier League match against Hull City at The KC Stadium in Hull, England, on April 20, 2014. Lynne Cameron / AP Photo

Arsenal maintain push for top-four finish with victory at Hull

Hull could end up in Europe regardless of the FA Cup final result if Arsenal finish in the Uefa Champions League places

 Ashish Nehra of Chennai Super Kings bowls to Kings XI Punjab at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Hard-hitting Chennai not deterred by opening loss in IPL

But some questions remain about the team's attack ahead of Monday's match against Delhi Daredevils in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Stanislas Wawrinka turned away fellow Swiss Roger Federer with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 20, 2014. Julian Finney / Getty Images

Wawrinka backhands Federer aside at Monte Carlo Masters

Stanislas Wawrinka won the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time after rallying to beat Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in a rare all-Swiss final.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National